NEW DELHI, 7 March: While hearing a case of a Telangana man who is behind the bars for a year after allegedly stealing five sarees, the Supreme Court asked, – what about the person who has defaulted on crores of rupees? The hint at Vijay Mallya, the liquor baron wanted in India on charges of fraud linked to unpaid loans, was not missed.
Chief Justice of India Justice JS Khehar while not naming Mallya raised a question that, “A person who has taken away crores of rupees is enjoying life. But here a person who took five sarees is in jail.”
The Supreme Court said during the hearing of a petition by the wife of Ch Eliah, arrested in Hyderabad over a year ago and in prison without trial.
The Chief Justice questioned how could Telangana take a man into preventive custody for stealing sarees?
The accused man’s lawyer however, argued there was no witness to prove the offence.
The Telangana government justified the arrest saying a gang of saree thieves was operating in Hyderabad and many traders had complained about it, which made it essential for the state has to arrest them.
The Supreme Court will resume the hearing on Wednesday.
Mallya, 61, went out of India last year and moved to the UK in the middle of efforts by a group of banks to recover around 9,000 crores in unpaid loans to his collapsed Kingfisher Airlines. A warrant is out for the liquor tycoon to face trial in India for charges of conspiracy and fraud over the loans he owes.
He recently said that he is “safe in UK” and New Delhi has no grounds to extradite him.